KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

State Highlights: N.C. Medicaid Reform Plan Unveiled

A selection of health policy stories from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Florida, New York, and North Carolina.

North Carolina Health News: Medicaid Reform Plan Rules Out Privatization
After a nearly yearlong effort, state health officials presented their plan for overhauling the North Carolina Medicaid program, revealing a retreat from plans to offer the $13 billion program out to bid to private managed care companies. Over the course of a three-hour meeting of the Medicaid Reform Advisory Group held on Wednesday in Raleigh, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services presented a plan that would, however, put Medicaid providers at more financial risk in the program (Hoban, 2/27).

The CT Mirror: Feds Consider Scaling Back Medicaid Estate Recovery
For some adults, getting Medicaid coverage means that when they die, the state could claim some or all of their assets to recover the cost of the medical care they received. That’s left some people who qualify for the program under the federal health law wary of joining. Now the federal government, concerned about the effect on enrollment, plans to consider scaling back the practice. In a letter to state Medicaid directors, Cindy Mann, deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, wrote that the agency “intends to thoroughly explore options and to use any available authorities to eliminate recovery of Medicaid benefits" other than those spent on long-term care, like nursing home services or home care (Becker, 2/27).

The New York Times: D.C. Insurance Must Cover Treatment for Transgender Residents, Mayor Says
Health insurance providers in the District of Columbia must cover treatment for those given a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, including gender-reassignment surgeries, Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Thursday (Huetteman, 2/27).

Fox News: Florida Special Election A Test For ObamaCare?
Special elections rarely attract this much attention. But the race for Florida's 13th Congressional District is a hot one -- with so much at stake in November, what happens here is seen as a possible indicator of how the midterm elections could break.  "I think it's very important because, obviously, both parties have got their eyes focused sharply on what the ObamaCare issue does," said Susan McManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida. "Does it push (David) Jolly, the Republican across the finish line? Or does it help (Democratic candidate Alex) Sink win?" (Roberts, 2/27).

The Associated Press/Wall Street Journal: Cuomo Proposing Out-Of-Network Health Coverage
The Cuomo administration has proposed extending out-of-network coverage requirements for emergencies and specialists to all health insurers in New York in what it says is an effort to protect consumers from big surprise medical bills (2/27). 

Tampa Bay Times: Feds To Fine State Over Limit On Medicaid Patients' ER Visits
Florida has been limiting Medicaid patients to six emergency room visits a year even though federal officials consider such a cap illegal. As a result, the federal government intends to penalize the state by withholding a portion of Medicaid funding (Tillman and Mitchell, 2/26).

Health News Florida: Why Nurses Want More Power
A bill that would give nurse-practitioners more authority is one of the two big health issues being pushed by the House Select Committee on Health Care Workforce Innovation, which aims to increase access to primary care. The other big issue of the session, which starts March 4, is telemedicine: Ironing out how it could be paid for and regulated (Gentry, 2/27).

The Arizona Republic: Banner Scrutinized Over Medicare Ids
A federal agency placed Banner Health on “heightened monitoring” for printing the Medicare identification numbers of more than 50,000 Arizona residents on address labels of magazines mailed late last week. Medicare numbers often are identical to Social Security numbers. Banner printed the private information on labels affixed to its quarterly magazine Smart & Healthy, which arrived in mailboxes in Maricopa and Pinal counties beginning Monday (Giblin, 2/27).

Health News Colorado: New Equity Mission Targets Causes Of Poor Health
Now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is opening the doors to care for thousands of new patients, The Colorado Trust is embarking on an even more challenging, longer-term goal: health equity. “We’re focusing on those folks who, even with the implementation of the ACA, have a significant chance of getting left behind,” said Dr. Ned Calonge, president and CEO of The Trust. That means looking far beyond medical systems to try to reverse stubborn inequities that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants and disabled people, among others (McCrimmon, 2/28).

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